A new standard for voluntary hospitals?

In order to retain their tax-exempt status, not-for-profit hospitals must provide some kind of community benefit. But defining what constitutes "community benefit" has been a constant source of trouble for these hospitals. Now the Catholic Health Association says it has developed a set of guidelines for planning, measuring, and documenting community benefits. The CHA also says that almost all of its 4,000 facilities have adopted these measures. The association hopes its guidelines could become the standard that other health plans health plans follow. This would help both regulators and hospitals alike define what constitutes community benefit and could help to easily identify when a not-for-profit hospital is not in compliance. CHA President and chief executive Sister Carol Keehan met with Charles Grassley (R-IA) to discuss how the CHA's guidelines could be applied to other systems. A Senate finance committee will hear Sister Keehan's testimony on the guidelines later this week to determine if they could be applied to more hospitals. Recently, the IRS launched an investigation into possible wrongdoings at 550 tax-exempt hospitals.

For more on the CHA's guidelines:
- see this press release